In NYC, the heat of Pitta Season is slowly waning. Temperatures are fluctuating from day to day, turning cold and dry, and the wind is beginning to blow. Vata Season (fall/early winter) is making its appearance. I'm such a summer girl, but I have to admit I do love the autumn blue skies and crisp cool sweater-weather days.
In Ayurveda the fall season corresponds to Pitta and Vata. Autumn is considered Pitta as long as hot weather prevails, and Vata as it becomes cold. Late fall and winter are known as “Vata season” because they are marked by some of the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, light, clear, and moving. Vata relates to wind, and is governed by the elements of ether and air. Just as the wind is subtle and changeable, the energy of the vata dosha in the body is variable and strongly influenced by changes in the environment. When too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression may show up!
As we begin our transition from Pitta Season to Vata Season, it’s important to note Ayurvedic teachings;
“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari
Take note if you have experienced any of the following symptoms which are a sign of Vata aggravation;
dry skin and lips
little or low appetite
The following are some practical ideas to keep you grounded and vibrant during the cold months ahead.
Follow a Vata-pacifying Diet
Foods that are in season - root vegetables and winter squash, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicata, and buttercup squashes. These have the qualities of sweet, heavy, smooth, dense, and moist, and are most balancing for vata. To help pacify vata dosha, favor the tastes of sweet, sour, salty in your diet, while limiting bitter and astringent tastes.
Try some sweet grains - basmati rice, wheat berries, brown rice and sushi rice, whole wheat pasta and or buckwheat udon noodles. Include ghee and other healthful oils such as almond, sesame, or sunflower for internal oleation, kindling agni, and increasing absorption.
Drink lots of warming liquids such as hot water and herbal teas to prevent dehydration.
Eat more of the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and less of the bitter, astringent, and pungent ones (ex. avocados, bananas, mangoes, peaches, lemons, pumpkins, carrots, beets, asparagus, quinoa, rice, mung beans, almonds, sesame seeds, and ghee).
Nourish Your Senses
Stay warm. Vata is a cold, dry dosha, so it’s important to make sure that your home and work place are well heated and that the air has enough humidity.
Try giving yourself slow, gentle self-abhyanga massage in the morning or before bed. Use a nourishing, warming oil such as sesame or almond. You may also want to gently rub a drop of sesame oil inside your nasal passages, which tend to become dry during winter.
Sleep and Restful Awareness
Definitely get enough sleep! This is vital for Vatas, who tend to push themselves to the point of physical or mental exhaustion.
Vata thrives on regularity and routine. This includes getting up and going to bed at about the same time every morning and evening; eating meals on a predictable schedule rather than “grazing” or skipping meals. And make sure to plan time each day for exercise, rest, and relaxation. A s you create a daily balancing routine that nourishes your mind, body, and spirit, you will find yourself feeling more energized and centered in the months to come!